July 4, 2022


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A captivating twist on the intersection of Android and Chrome OS

My, oh my, we positive have come a good distance in these Google-scented quarters of ours.

‘Twas not so way back, in spite of everything, when everybody and their granpappy was fully satisfied that Google had to be engaged on combining its two major platforms — y’know, these foolish li’l issues we wish to name Chrome OS and Android.

For years, we heard countless declarations about how Chrome OS was a useless man strolling and the way Android would by some means swallow it as much as type a magically merged new mega-operating-system (mmm…tastes Chromey). The fact, in fact, was rather more nuanced: Google’s saved each Chrome OS and Android round and easily labored little by little to align the 2 entities and make ’em extra complementary, constant, and linked. (Huh. Who woulda thunk?!)

We have seen that alignment taking form for years now, however with uncommon exception, it is largely been a one-way street — Chrome OS, in different phrases, taking over increasingly more Android-like qualities and feeling ever extra linked to its robot-themed cousin.

However now, as Google appears to be like to vary the narrative round its unstated abandonment of Android tablets and the awkward actuality that Chromebooks have lengthy supplied the superior “Android pill” expertise, the tables are about to show — and the Android-Chrome-OS connection is about to flippity-flop in an interesting new approach.

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Let’s dive in and discover it somewhat, we could?

The Android-Chrome-OS connection

First, a fast little bit of context: When you’ve used and even saved a watch on Chromebooks for lengthy, you are in all probability loads acquainted with what I’ve lengthy known as the “Androidification of Chrome OS.” From a decidedly Android-inspired Fast Settings and notification design to an Android-reminiscent pill house display screen interface, the presence of Google Assistant on Chromebooks, and even the adoption of distinctly Android-like gestures for getting across the system, the variety of parts Chrome OS has borrowed from Android over time is staggering.

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And actually, that makes an terrible lot of sense. Android’s been round longer than Chrome OS. It is supplied up a extra absolutely fleshed-out and feature-rich expertise from the get-go. In order Google’s slowly however certainly expanded Chromebooks from their unique barebones, web-portal method into being the all-purpose, platform-defying powerhouses they more and more are in the present day — turning Chrome OS from the “nothing” OS to the “every thing” OS, as I’ve put it beforehand — it is solely pure that inspiration would move largely from the Android aspect to the Chromebook nook.

Now, as Google’s gearing as much as renew its deal with a extra optimum large-screen expertise for Android, it is flipping the script and beginning to convey concepts from the Chromebook universe into Android. And as soon as extra, it truly makes loads of sense. I imply, give it some thought: Chrome OS has been Google’s major focus for large-screen computing for a while now, with Android being little greater than a forgotten footnote in the case of something beefier than a telephone.

However this yr, that is about to vary. Google’s making it clear it is able to take conventional Android tablets significantly once more and produce ’em onto equal footing with the Chromebook pill expertise. And the extra carefully we see what the corporate’s as much as, the extra apparent it is changing into that a lot of its inspiration for the Android pill setup is certainly coming straight from the realm o’ Chrome OS.

Take, for example, probably the most outwardly apparent little bit of incoming Chrome-to-Android interface adoption: the persistent new on-screen taskbar current in Google’s fresh-out-of-the-fryer Android 12L launch — in addition to the Android 13 replace that is actively beneath improvement and set to comply with this fall.

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You’ve got seen this by now, proper? Within the new Android variations that’ll goal each tablets and foldables later this yr, you may get a useful little shelf for storing your favourite shortcuts after which simply hoppin’ over to ’em from any app you are utilizing. See?

Android Taskbar JR

And sure, indeedly, if that appears acquainted, it oughta: It is nearly similar to the shelf interface that is current on Chromebooks and likewise at all times accessible, irrespective of the place you’re within the system or what method of mischief you is likely to be as much as.

Chrome OS Taskbar JR

Past that, Google seems to be engaged on a brand new Chromebook-reminiscent easy profile-switching system for Android 13 that’ll enable for simpler multiuser entry on a single machine. And it is cookin’ up a brand new split-screen system that’ll allow you to drag apps to both aspect of a show to put ’em in a side-by-side setup — probably even ranging from a notification.

As soon as once more, that is taking a cue instantly from Chrome OS. Chromebooks have a tablet-specific system for doing that exact same kind of drag-to-split-screen motion from their oft-overlooked Overview interface:

Chrome OS Split Screen JR

The examples go on and on from there, and you will discover much more of ’em within the many wonderful overviews of Google’s Android 13 progress. Whereas we have seen loads of deal with these kinds of specifics, although, few tech-watching mammals have zoomed out to think about the broader implications of what this all represents. And also you’d higher imagine that is each bit as necessary, particularly in the case of understanding Google’s bigger-picture plans and perceptions of its platforms.

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At its core, the shift we’re seeing provides as much as create an entire new part for Google’s Android-Chrome-OS alignment — one by which Chromebooks at the moment are serving because the mannequin and the supply for Android’s incoming enhancements. It is one heck of a shift from the sample we have seen play out over the previous a number of years, however finally, it is the identical philosophy — solely flip-flopped for a special sort of machine type.

Whether or not you utilize an Android machine, a Chromebook, or each, you may take coronary heart in the truth that the 2 platforms are pushing one another ahead and aiding one another’s evolutions in some fairly phenomenal methods. It will not be the longer term most folk as soon as anticipated to see play out with Google’s two major platforms, however it’s completely a future that maximizes either side’s strengths for us — the mere mortals who depend on the related merchandise and tote ’em round in our day-to-day lives.

On the finish of the day, all patterns and techniques and philosophies apart, all that issues to us odd tech-owning people is that we get the simplest doable expertise, it doesn’t matter what sort of machine we’re utilizing at any given second. And from the appears to be like of it up to now, it positive looks as if Google’s newest efforts will go a delightfully good distance in connecting its digital universes and bringing the perfect of each worlds to these of us who stay in ’em.

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